By all accounts, as I suddenly became a social history miner sifting through boxes of photographs, letters and clippings; the nine decades of footprints did tell a story. Though I knew this person as a friend for nearly forty years of her ninety, there was always so much untold, un-revealed.
Respecting the privacy of the individual, what I can say is that by the basic habit of her saving these things, her story was reconstructed in my mind and at least won’t merely be a jumble of footnotes. But you do wonder, why do we keep memories squirreled away waiting for the “raiders of the lost ark”? What if there are no raiders, family or otherwise?
Well we may not have created a Sistine ceiling or a Last Supper fresco in our lifetime, but if we can give an accounting of our longevity by developing our own social literacy; then maybe we will leave behind messages about our passage that will feed a future soul. Our life really is a continuum of footprints on a path of possibilities with happenstance connections to others.
But meeting this person nearly forty years ago, now seems more than happenstance. The photographs alone surprisingly reflected multiple lives un-photographed, lives lived repeatedly in the echoes from tiny footprints.
And as the sifting through boxes ended, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the digital age will produce any sensory effects close to the musty smells of paper that enhanced the tracing of a story of longevity.